We are surrounded by increasingly smart technologies. They are not developed as an end in themselves, but to make our lives easier and better – already now, but also in the future. And so business travel is also becoming increasingly uncomplicated. For example, by digitally mapping the entire booking and settlement process in an intelligent system. Basically, all it takes is an app on a smartphone. In the meantime, however, in addition to ease of use, another component has become extremely important: the further development of solutions is increasingly driven by sustainability ambitions.
But how do travel planning and booking systems have to be designed to make employees active supporters of sustainability goals??
Business trip of the future: Calculate CO2 emissions of the entire process
It's worth noting that there are already smart applications for promoting sustainable business travel today. Our SAP Concur solutions integrate all the necessary functions – from travel approval to digital receipt entry and settlement – in a single digital application. This not only saves e-mails and paper documents. For example, Concur Travel can show employees their carbon footprint when they book their air travel. This means they can consider early on whether a more sustainable alternative is possible and makes sense.
But what if we start here even earlier in the future?
For example, in the future, smart solutions will ask whether the trip is necessary or can be replaced by a video conference before calculating the travel time and costs. A simple step that can help save CO2 and also costs. And just as a warning is already displayed when booking a means of transport or accommodation if employees exceed their budget, this could also be implemented in the future for CO2 emissions. The only prerequisite is that a corresponding regulation is defined in the company's travel policy and stored in the system.
The next step is for the travel management solution to use the booking information to suggest the best travel option, taking into account not only time and cost, but also sustainability criteria. By the way, if a flight turns out to be the best option, solutions like TripIt already suggest practical tips and ways to compensate, such as planting trees or supporting climate protection projects around the world. Travelers can decide for themselves whether and how they want to contribute to sustainable business travel. A new way of managing budgets is also emerging. Because the compensation costs are added to the total cost of the trip: The trip becomes more expensive, the CO2 footprint is offset.
Continuous measurement of CO2 emissions already today
The comparison of a travel budget and a CO2 budget requires that data can be collected along the entire process and evaluated in a system. We've developed Concur Intelligence to do just that. This enables travel managers to see the status quo at a glance and to see which adjustments they can make on the way to climate neutrality. For example, by prohibiting domestic travel by air in future travel guidelines. Carbon neutral options like rail travel can be prominently placed in Concur Travel for employees at the time of booking, making it easier for them to book sustainable options. And the data can also be used as a basis for negotiations with partner organizations. This is how you take many small steps today that can have a big effect on CO2 emissions in the future.
The contactless hotel stay of the future
Let's get back to our vision of the future. What does it look like when we arrive at the hotel after the climate-neutral trip? Perhaps we no longer need to have our passports at hand, but instead check in with biometric data. Smart hotel properties recognize your reservation as soon as you walk in the door using stored travel data. So you no longer have to wait your turn at the front desk, you can just go to your room and unlock it with your smartwatch. Checking out is just as straightforward.
We will also see a greater customization of travel as we may become accustomed to arriving in a hotel room that is tailored to our needs – from TV settings to a minibar that caters to our lactose intolerance.
Does this sound like a scenario from heaven or hell to you? Opinions may differ. In the future, too, there will be no one-size-fits-all solution – and that's just as well! But while there's room for discussion when it comes to contactless travel, we're in agreement when it comes to sustainability: anyone and everyone can help on the road to carbon-neutral business travel. We can already take the first step today thanks to digital solutions.
You want to start? Then evaluate the sustainability of your business travel now with our benchmark tool!